Extract: Life Class: The Education of a Biographer by Brenda Niall

Brenda Niall, mainly known for her literary biography of author Martin Boyd, and a further biography of the others in the Boyd clan, has released a memoir of her writing life, Life Class: The Education of a Biographer. "The Age", this weekend, published an extract from that memoir, in which Niall details the problems that can arise when attempting to interview a reluctant subject; in this case Archbishop Mannix. "The archbishop's inquiries made me conscious of the difficulty of my role. There was a certain weariness in the courtesies; and no sign that he was ready to talk about himself. Sitting opposite him, with my blank notepad open, I tried awkwardly to reverse our roles. I was naive enough to have thought that we would begin at the beginning, and from there the words would flow. There was no tape recorder. Someone who refused to speak on the telephone was not likely to allow this more recent form of technology. Recording would not have helped much; the words came so slowly and quietly that I had plenty of time to transcribe. My halting questions about his childhood drew a sentence or two, before an unmistakable full stop."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 5, 2007 4:05 PM.

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